Today is the one and only Friday the 13th in 2010, which brings to mind one of the most memorable opening lines in literature: "It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen." Remember those ominous words from George Orwell's 1984?
We've put together a list of other favorite opening lines below. The first few words of a book are meant to pique our curiosity and involve us immediately...they're often shocking or mysterious, as if we've walked into a compelling conversation that's already underway. "Call me Ishmael," for example. The narrator of Melville's Moby-Dick is establishing a relationship with the reader and in just three words, we want to know more...Who is he? What has he just experienced?
Other favorites include classic lines from Dickens, Tolstoy, Bronte, even Harry Potter. The oft-quoted and satirized first sentence from Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time is here as well: "It was a dark and stormy night."
These opening lines evoke the beginnings of unforgettable journeys that we can take time and again. Happy Friday the 13th and watch out for black cats today!
Call me Ishmael. (Moby-Dick)
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (Anna Karenina)
Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... (A Tale of Two Cities)
Marley was dead, to begin with. (A Christmas Carol)
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. (Jane Eyre)
All children, except one, grow up. (Peter Pan)
This is the saddest story I have ever heard. (The Good Soldier)
It was a dark and stormy night. (A Wrinkle in Time)
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again... (Rebecca)